Thursday, September 29, 2005

Battle of Four Lakes

Once again, I walk the trail of history in search of places connected to my Native ancestors. Not long ago, I visited the site of Colonel Wright's massacre of over 800 Indian horses, and as part of that same story, I decided to find the site of the Indians' defeat and surrender at the Battle of Four Lakes.

In 1858, the Spokane Nation joined a coalition of other indigenous nations in resistence to the hostile advances of the United States of America. We prevailed in our first battle against Colonel Steptoe, but our victory only served to stoke the fires of retribution. Colonel Wright descended upon the combined armies of the Northwest tribes and engaged my ancestors in battle at the present-day site of Four Lakes, Washington. The tribes set fire to the plains hoping to deter the U.S. Army, but the tactic failed. Colonel Wright defeated the Indians.

As we sought the battle site, we had to navigate through road construction and the back roads of Four Lakes, Washington. I didn't even know there was an incorporated town in that vicinity, but the site was not too difficult to find. It stood less than half a block beyond the Four Lakes Post Office, on the edge of an empty lot. Power lines, trailer houses, and a "lovely" view of Interstate 90 precluded any romantic ideas of good photographic opportunities. It's odd to think such an important moment in our history now sits so nearly forgotten and deteriorated.

The monument is a triangular granite slab, pointing skyward and reading:

Battle of Four Lakes

On this historic ground, Sept. 1, 1858, 700 soldiers under Col. Geo. Wright, U.S.A. routed 5000 allied Indians.

Four days later, the allied hostiles were decisively defeated in a running battle. They sued for mercy and have ever since maintained lasting peace.

No comments: